Saturday, January 20, 2018
Public safety

Report: Driver in second I-275 fatal wrong-way crash was drunk

TAMPA — A medical examiner's report in the second of two fatal wrong-way crashes in February shows the driver was drunk when his car collided with a truck on Interstate 275.

Chase Kaleb Leveille's blood-alcohol level at the time of the Feb. 21 collision was 0.21, according to the report released Thursday. Under Florida law, a driver is considered impaired with a level of 0.08 or greater. He also had a small amount of marijuana in his blood, the report stated.

Leveille was the only one killed in the crash, which happened about 3 miles north of the spot where another wrong-way collision in the northbound lanes killed five men Feb. 9.

People began calling 911 about 2:35 a.m. that morning to report Leveille's red Honda Civic heading north on the southbound side of I-275. One caller said the car had been going south before it made a U-turn near Busch Boulevard and sped north.

Just north of the Bearss Avenue exit, the car crashed head-on in the center lane with an Enterprise rental truck. The car's front end crumpled and caught fire.

An autopsy detailed the massive injuries sustained by Leveille, 25 of Riverview. He likely died instantly, suffering numerous broken bones and lacerations to internal organs, the report showed.

Two men in the truck were treated for minor injuries.

The crash officially remains under investigation, according to a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol. Authorities declined to release details about where Leveille might have been in the hours before the crash.

His driving record notes one prior crash, in 2007, after which he received a citation for an improper lane change. He avoided having points assessed on his license by attending defensive driving school, records show.

Earlier that same year, he received three points after he was found guilty of driving with a suspended license. The reason for the suspension was unclear. He received two other citations: one in 2005 for following too closely and another in 2009 for going 86 in a 70 mph zone, records show.

The toxicology results in Leveille's case were similar to those of the driver who caused February's first wrong-way crash.

Daniel Lee Morris, 28, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20 with traces of marijuana present when he drove a friend's Ford Expedition south in the northbound lanes of I-275 early Feb. 9, reports showed.

About 2,000 feet north of Busch Boulevard, Morris collided with a 2010 Hyundai carrying USF fraternity brothers Dammie Yesudhas, 21; Jobin Kuriakose, 21; Imtiyaz Jim Ilias, 20; and Ankeet Patel, 22. All five men died.

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